ELSIE AND NORM’S “MACBETH”
by John Christopher Wood
directed by Beverley McKiernan
Colne Dramatic Society
It is always an adventure to see a play for the first time, but to see a play I’ve never heard of before is an added bonus. When I started a bit of research on the play and found the plotline, I imagined it was going to be a somewhat silly play, with appeal more to a student population rather than your average amateur audience. Silly, it is, but at the same time very cleverly written. It does help if you know Macbeth quite well, because otherwise much of the humour might get lost.
Fed up with playing Trivial Pursuit and watching re-runs of Dynasty and Murder She Wrote, Yorkshire couple Elsie and Norm decide to go for a bit of culture and stage some Shakespeare in their living room. Of course, it needs a bit of re-writing to liven it up, and it’s a bit of a push with just the two of them playing all those characters – but it’s entirely worth it for "one of the greatest pieces of literature what has ever been wrote in the English language".
As Norm says, however, “Shakespeare’s jokes aren’t funny and the poetry doesn’t rhyme, so I’ve rewritten parts of it.” “Besides”, as Elsie goes on to say, “Why do you need three witches, one would do?”
Thus the scene was set for Elsie and Norm to invite round to 41 Laburnum Avenue, their friends (we, the audience) to witness their rewrite of the Bard’s tragedy, and to watch them perform all the characters, with the aid of a couple of puppets, to tell the tale of Macbeth becoming king.
With only two in the cast playing all the roles, except for Banquo and Fleance who were played by stuffed pandas, one needed expert, experienced performers. And in this presentation, we were treated to superb performances given by Marilyn Crowther, as Elsie and Steve Cooke, as Norm.
The chemistry and timing between Marilyn and Steve were impeccable and whilst the play is clearly silly in every sense, it remained an entertaining performance, due entirely to the cast’s ability and skill.
The two of them used a range of homemade costumes and props to great effect. We even had a song and dance routine from Elsie, badly mimed to “Love Potion No 9”, which added to the overall silliness. Whilst there was little respect for the original play, there were moments when the actual Macbeth script balanced things, and kept us on track with the main storyline.
The company, on stage and behind the scenes, must have worked their socks off to keep this caper moving and not become self-indulgent. The sound, lighting and scenery all contributed to the overall picture.
Steve and Marilyn should be very proud of their presentation. The chemistry between them was flawless, and their timing impeccable.
Very many congratulations to you both, and to Beverly McKiernan, as director of this superb piece of theatrical silliness, for creating a wonderful evening’s entertainment.